Variety is the spice of life, and as it turns out, it is the spice of the fall season too. Variety keeps your kiddo open to new experiences, so why not try something new in celebration of the changing season? Fall is a stellar time to dig into new activities that stimulate and challenge the senses. Whether your kiddo deals with sensory processing disorder or is just exploring the big world with their senses, we have some fall sensory play activities to try as the leaves change color and the weather grows chillier.
Fall Scavenger Hunt in Costumes
With Halloween just around the corner, it might just be time to practice with the Halloween costume. If your kiddo has difficulties with this sensory experience, check out our blog where we talk about how kiddos can enjoy the Halloween season with sensory processing disorder (SPD). If your kiddo would like, have them dress up and take on a fall scavenger hunt outside. Create a list of items for them to find (ex: leaves, pinecones, etc.). Talk to them about how the different items feel and look so that they can get the most out of the experience. For this task, you may want to survey the area prior to creating a list. Landscapes can certainly vary in our local area!
Carving Pumpkins & Decorating Pinecones
If your kiddo would rather stay away from costumes, give crafts a try. They always seem to be a crowd favorite. Carving pumpkins can be a great way to explore the senses. Just ask that ooey-gooey mess that lives inside of pumpkins. Plus, this is an excellent way to fine-tune fine motor skills. Try out these pumpkin carving ideas for kids for inspiration. If your kiddo is a bit young to be carving pumpkins or it’s just not their thing, you can try decorating fall-themed pinecones. Include glitter, glue, beads, and whatever else you think would bedazzle that pinecone. Encourage your kiddo to really touch the different textures while decorating. It’s okay if things get a bit messy. Messes often mean that learning is happening!
Fall Sensory Play with Pumpkin Seeds
Even if you’re not carving a pumpkin, you can still pop off the top for fall sensory play fun. Create a sensory bag with the inner goo that comes from a pumpkin. Put the goo and seeds inside of a plastic bag and let your little one touch it. This can be especially fun for kiddos still doing tummy time. Place the bag under your kiddo’s hands and watch them interact and learn from the sensation. Just make sure to supervise! Another hands-on activity to try with pumpkin seeds is creating a sand bin. You can dye the seeds for extra enjoyment and pour those seeds into a box. Place other items like toys in the pumpkin-seed box so your kiddo can explore the contents with their sense of touch.
Get into the Halloween groove with the “Monster Mash!” It may sound simple, but hearing is an essential sense too. For kiddos that struggle with loud sounds, you may give them the opportunity to listen on a slightly higher volume than they are used to. Of course, use your best judgement to know if your kiddo is ready to stretch their comfort zone. If not, you can still enjoy these Halloween songs at a comfortable volume. Bonus points if you turn this into a dance party!
Making Fall Treats and Snacks
Taste, smell, touch! Cooking really has it all when it comes to exploring the senses. There are countless Halloween and fall-themed recipes to pick from online. If you’re not feeling decisive, we found a simple oreo bat recipe that might strike your fancy. For those families avoiding sugar, search for healthy Halloween snack recipes. The sky’s the limit when your cooking up fun treats in the kitchen.
Over or under stimulation to sensory experiences can be uncomfortable for kiddos. Occupational therapy can be a gamechanger. Reach out to our Occupational Therapy team this fall season.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2022 and has been updated to reflect the most up-to-date information for parents and caregivers.